Aging is made up of small “adult” moments; moments in which we recognize our parents and elders in ourselves. Moments that give us pause; when we realize that somehow sometime we really did grow up and we aren’t just a kid or a teenager playing house. I know I’m getting older as these moments start getting closer and closer together. Much of the “real” grown-up feelings came along with herbut lately, it’s been coming from my own hands.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the story our hands tell. How our hands define us, always busy from childhood to our last years; how they define our relationships, the people we touch and the things we do with them. What they are to a mother and what they mean to a child.
I think hands must be very important….Hands: plait hair…knead bread..spank bottoms…wring in anguish..shake the air in exasperation..wipe tears, sweat and pain from faces..are at the end of arms which hold…
I remember my mother’s hands frosting cake, cleaning bathrooms, and making beds. I remember them playing and punishing; I remember them buried elbow-deep in soap suds at the kitchen sink.
I wonder what Nora will remember of my hands. Turning the pages of a book or tapping at the keys of a keyboard? Pinning up diapers and stirring pots? Splashing in bubbled bathwater?Will she see them as coarse and rough, tired, or will they be soft and gentle, soothing?
I remember the bottle of lotion my mother always kept below the kitchen sink. Blue and white; Curel. I remember her massaging it into her palms, between fingers, and across each knuckle before sliding her wedding rings back on. A nightly ritual. It seemed a small luxury, but I had the soft, innocent hands of youth and was oblivious to need for lotion.
Now with winter’s dry air, all day dish washing, and hot baby baths, I have mother’s hands.Cracked and sore, thirsty for lotion and summer humidity. And so I see a mother in my hands, in me. We mothers do so many things with our hands; they speak volumes about who we are and how we parent, and yet we don’t often see them.
Not always quite sure what it is we need…too in tune to our hands that hold…are holding…that caress…are caressing…that carry…are carrying…that we forget to soak them, and to soothe them, to rest them… (Giovanni)
But this I won’t do. Like my mother I now have lotion at the kitchen sink. I am slathering my hands with youthful hopes each night at bed. I tell myself worn hands, hands that are used, hands that love, are a badge of honor. A sign of true sign of adulthood…just another grown up moment.